Snirt road season came to a close on Saturday, with temps hovering close to freezing and the sun shining plenty strong to melt the snow and ice covering our favourite dirt roads north of Wakefield, QC. During this ‘shoulder season,’ it becomes very difficult to predict the condition of roads when setting rides for the weekends. It’s generally necessary to adopt a ‘whatever happens happens’ policy, dress well, and just get out there.
After taking in the last 50km of Strade Bianche – which we ought to refer as ‘The Brambilla Show’ – one of my favourite spring classics, it was time to load up my musette with homemade bars, spare gloves and hats, and head out the door. Starting below 0C from Ottawa, Marc Hunt and I rode up to Wakefield at a few degrees below zero. The paved roads were in good shape, with almos no ice – nothing to cause issues – and not a whole lot of water. We arrived at Pipolinka at noon to meet Nick and Mike and had a snack together before heading out for the next leg, the snirt roads. Have I mentioned they have the best bagels?
As you can see above, it was maximum mucky. It was a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ sort of ride. With fenders, the tires would pick up snow after getting soaked with water, spray it all over the place when it built up enough to hit the fenders, then mix with more water to create ice. I only ran a front fender, knowing how bad this can be, but it was nevertheless necessary to pause every 30 minutes to break the ice up and out. Sometimes the extra resistance was considerable, not as if we needed any more of that!
Without fenders, you’d straight up get sprayed, but the guys riding from Wakefield had less of that to deal with than Marc and me, so they managed ok. It’s the mixing of paved roads to and from Wakefield and the snirt roads that make all this tricky.
Check out the aero snow cone on my bike! Talk about an integrated design; inspiration for bike design, no?
Back home Saturday night, bike cleaning, laundry, and bike prep for Sunday’s ride was augmented by a sunny forecast that promised fewer layers and more wind buddies. I was excited about being able to ride in shorts and leg warmers – maybe! – and perhaps just one pair of gloves. Cycling brings one many simple joys….
Two pairs of socks (should have worn these…), summer MTB shoes, booties, leg warmers, shorts, three base layers and a long-sleeved jersey…now we’re talking! On my fender road bike, not too much spray was getting onto my feet for the first while, and certainly no spray was getting past my rear friender flap! A few guest riders were not friender-ready, and thus relegated to the back of our 8-man peloton. Oh, what’s a ‘friender?’
A photo posted by Matt Surch Ⓥ (@cyclosomatic) on
Thanks to David Bilenkey for this friender zone diagram!
Above zero, sun blazing, wetness abounded as we headed to Wakefield again, this time planning to stay off the dirt roads. We’d wind up doing the classic out-and-back, staying off River Road (ice-fest) in favour of Hwy 105. The incredibly bad section of the 105 was paved in the fall, and it’s now an absolute treat to ride, perfect for pace-lines. So much fun!
The out and back is 80k form downtown Ottawa, so while others headed their different ways at Gamelin, I joined Karl for his return to Orleans, finding some of the wettest roads of the day along the parkway. Still, riding outside and getting wet feet under the sun beats riding the trainer every time! 110k on the day, just under 4 hours rounded out a solid weekend of bike practice. A couple of the guys were reminded of the importance of eating on the bike, and I was reminded of the need to drink more now that we’re riding more than 3 hours. It’s not very tempting to drink when it’s cool and wet out, but if you don’t you’ll have to compensate later on, which will probably mean you’ll be getting up all night to pee! That’s bad for recovery, let me tell you.
Next weekend, more miles, probably a foray out to and beyond Carp, perhaps to a pancake shack if it’s in the cards, perhaps a simple stop at Alice’s Cafe in Carp, a crowd pleaser.
If you’re wondering how to clean your bike after nasty, salty rides, c’mon back later this week for a quick run-down of my quick, easy, effective protocol.